Third time lucky – or are we?

If you have good health and food on your table every day, then indeed, count yourself lucky. However, some of the patients at the Children’s Hospital 2, Nguyen Du street, are overdue to receive a bit of luck in their lives. It is Friday afternoon, ten to four, and we have arrived. Early and soaked as we braved the rain in order to be on time for the scheduled 4 pm meet up. It’s my third weekly visit in a row and we realise we are the first to arrive. The members of the group are wiser, they wait for the rain to clear and then they set out for their weekly mission. The end goal is important, getting wet is not. Off we go. The route is familiar, the wards too, only the people have changed. All new faces, or so it seems. They still know that we are here and people are approaching to secure a meal ticket. The group is bringing hope and the ones who receive their help are the lucky ones. Sadly, we all wish more people to be lucky too, but to achieve that, more help and donors are needed. (All images by iPhone.) smm_charity_third_visit_01 smm_charity_third_visit_02 smm_charity_third_visit_03 smm_charity_third_visit_04 smm_charity_third_visit_05 smm_charity_third_visit_06 smm_charity_third_visit_07

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Observing kindness and documenting with an iPhone

It’s Friday 4pm in Ho Chi Minh City. We are at the gates of the hospital again. This time we arrive early and it’s still daylight and the group has just assembled outside the cafeteria that is located inside the compound. Red plastic chairs are shuffled around and hands are shaken. More people are present and we get introduced to them all. Off we go. Extra diapers are handed out to parents in need along with the weekly food tickets. Donations are also given to parents with children that has undergone surgery. The walk through the emergency area is emotional, especially if you are a parent yourself. You really don’t want to be walking in their shoes.

Despite the circumstances, smiles are still seen. It was really remarkable to see the young boy, sitting on his mothers lap, connected to a machine with a plastic tube coming out from his throat and he was still able to smile after we arrived.

The images below sums the experience up better than words. If you would like to help or get in touch with the group, please come along on a Friday afternoon at 4pm or visit their website (in Vietnamese) here http://traitimnhanai.com.vn/home.php

Iphonography. SMM_Charity_visit_02 SMM_Charity_visit_03 SMM_Charity_visit_04 SMM_Charity_visit_05 SMM_Charity_visit_06 SMM_Charity_visit_07 SMM_Charity_visit_08 SMM_Charity_visit_09 SMM_Charity_visit_10 SMM_Charity_visit_11 SMM_Charity_visit_12

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What a difference a slip of paper can make – A visit at the hospital ward, Nguyen Du Street, District 1

Receivers of food coupons

Receivers of food coupons. Iphonography.

A chain of events. A one year anniversary notification found its way to my inbox. An Expat blog meet-up, always at a new location, and almost always having new people participating. Thus, I met Dennis and his wife, Quynh, for the first time. A random encounter with a touching outcome. They do charity. Several stories later and we are at the hospital ward. They support a local group that helps the poorest amongst the patients.

Every week they print around 300 food tickets, all valid for one week only, to the meals at the canteen. The receivers are guaranteed to have adequate food for a week. It makes a difference when what you have is nothing as you spent everything you had on medicine. The smiles of joy and relief are seen as the group goes through the wards handing out their tickets as well as following up from last week. The group relies on donations to pay for the meals they sponsor every week.

They also run a website (in Vietnamese) that shows what they are doing and how they have spent the money donated.

Here are a few iPhone images from the Friday handout. It takes place every Friday afternoon at the hospital at Nguyen Du street, District 1.

Receivers of food coupons. Iphonography.

Receivers of food coupons. Iphonography.

Receivers of food coupons. Iphonography.

Receivers of food coupons. Iphonography.

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Saigon Scooter Centre’s annual Charity Run 2010

This year was the fifth anniversary of the Charity Run event organized by Saigon Scooter Centre. My first time to attend. The event raises money for charity and the full information can be accessed here.

This will be the longest blog post in terms of images. Take a look and get a feel of the day. Truly worth experiencing again. Need to get a proper scooter first. Enjoy!

Morning registration.

Mounting the official banner for the bikes.

A girl and her scooter... and her spectators.

Changing into official T-Shirts the male model way.

You show your image and I take yours.

Official sticker proudly displayed.

Custom built ride of the day. Patrick got it ready the day before. Brakes installed during breakfast.

Get your Santa-on-Wheels portrait. Two phones at the time.

@Caligarn during breakfast.

Patrick, the organiser and owner of Saigon Scooter Centre on the left.

Mr 720, aka @vietnam720, in action.

Ho Chi Minh City's District 12 Motorbike Club

Club members unite.


Detail of scooter with banner mounted in front.

The entrance banner.

Mr Union Jack.


Kick off with @Caligarn aiming for the lead.

It's all on video! DVD from the day available from Saigon Scooter Centre.

Scooter down. Still all good. Thumbs up!

That's how we roll!

Short stop to let people catch up. All documented.

Camera man in action. Police in action. Riders in action.

Setting off! Break over.

Patrick on his custom bike.

Pitstop before having lunch at the resort.

All parked and ready for lunch.




Time to go. Lunch done.

Lunch over. Next stage!

Getting to the bikes and off to the next location.

Road is filling up.

Not only for scooters.

Arriving at the Pagoda and orphanage.

Santa-on-Wheels backdrop in place.

Banner with all the sponsor logos. We are the one with a red camera.



It's Vespa alright.

Children at the orphanage getting gifts.

A candy moment.

All the candy in my world.

The water gun game. Shoot'em down.

Free rides for all.

Let's ride!

Another round please.



The arrival of Santa!

Santa is here!

It's Christmas gift time!

One of the children at the orphanage to see Santa.

Time to leave!







Patrick arriving at the party directly from the road.



The stage with DJ and projector showing previous year's run.

The band!


Yes! I won! I'm so lucky, lucky!

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The “100 Faces” photography project and the Vietnamese contribution

“The project is a book in which sale proceeds will be donated to The Global Hunger Project.
We are collecting an array of portraits from different photographers around the world.

The Goal of this Project: Gain exposure for photographers and the art of photography,
raise money for global affairs addressing children poverty, expose the world to the different
perspectives of Beauty amongst different cultures.

We are asking each contributing photographer to submit 1-10 portraits of women
between ages 18-32 which are considered to be beautiful in their local culture.

The brief in short. Received by email. Sounded interesting. Profits to be donated to charity. We can support that. The following Facebook status update went out: “Participating in a world wide charity project about women’s beauty. Need to submit images of ten Vietnamese women. Anyone interested? “

Who would heed the call? 6 women did and here’s the result:






An Tran

Then came the follow up email:

“Dear Photographers,

I am very sad to be writing this email today and I have developed relationships with many of you
over the past months. I am writing to you because the 100 Faces photography project has been
indefinitely suspended due to lack of funds. “

Sad news indeed, but that should not stop us from ever trying. We tried and got the results above and we would not have had them if we never got the brief.

Yes, disappointed that the project didn’t proceed further and grateful for the opportunity to create the work above.

It was a fun experience as we had to use natural light and James’ helping hands with the reflector to follow the photography guidelines.

Overall, a good experience.

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Project Charity

The charity project is something that has been on and off. First time we started it, was around 2003. We found 5 different, privately run orphanages and visited them. We interviewed and photographed, went back home and wrote articles about them that were then posted online on a now forgotten portal site. However, the years they were up, they generated interest and gifts for the orphanages.

The stories we were told back then, are stories that we can never forget. It seems that in this world, no matter how hard you think you have had it, there is always someone who has had a harder life.

What can you do when you are few hours old and are being left outside an unknown house…

The people who care for the orphans have put tremendous effort and love into their operations, no matter how poor they are themselves.

You open up your own house, sell all your furniture so you can support more children and give up your own privacy just for the sake of helping others…

You meet these people face to face and leave humbled.

After setting up my photography studio again, the orphanage project kept coming back in my mind. Still the same concept; visit, document and raise awareness. I added some self imposed rules, only to bring a camera and a lens, maybe a reflector, but that’s about it. Back to basic photography.

My plan this time is to visit 8-10 orphanages and create enough visual imagery for a book and an exhibition in order to raise both awareness and funds for them.

The project is trotting slowly along, I have been to 4 already together with a journalist friend of mine who helps with the interviews.

All the places that we have visited are more or less unknown to the general public. There are quite a few organisations, NGO’s that are internationally funded and staffed with both ex-pats and locals, but we are not including them as they already are receiving exposure. Our aim is to help the ones that even with US$ 10 extra, makes a huge difference.

Below are some samples from the recent visits.

Orphanage Project

Orphanage Project

Orphanage Project

Orphanage Project

Orphanage Project

Orphanage Project

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